When the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the world arrived in Australia, they threw this country’s relative success in addressing the pandemic into a new set of coordinates: the act of protesting required a withdrawal from a commitment to one form of collective work (the obedience involved in social distancing), to the collective work of protest for Indigenous self-determination. Larrakia and Tiwi actor, Miranda Tapsell, commented on the protests on prime-time television, stating:
“It’s no longer on us to change things. It’s on the majority. It’s up to non-Indigenous Australians to want to take up that labour. I can’t make you do it.”
But how to use the current moment as a means for taking-up this labour? And, as this question concerns us here, how to do so in our institutions; in our pedagogies; and, crucially, now?
A lot of hard work has been done by First Nations People on issues of race and inequality. The BLM movement has highlighted the burden put on People of Colour to tell and retell their truth, with many questioning why, even after all this work, they are still required to do the heavy lifting.
This stream will aim to address the question of how Allies might do the work of reconciliation without slipping into paternalism of actions, or speaking for (and over) the voices they wish to amplify. Integral to this issue, we also need to ask: how do we arrive at a place where we value the perspectives First Nations People bring to their work, to the extent that they are no longer seen as an add on, to tick a diversity box, or engaged to lead when a project directly relates to Community? When will the knowledges brought to the work First Nations People do be seen as having universal application and not be marginalised, targeted or pigeonholed? And, what might this mean for architecture in particular?